The History of Concrete
The history of concrete dates back to the era of the Romans. The first recorded use of concrete for building construction is attributed to them in 300 BC, when they used a primitive version of it to build aqueducts, harbours, and other structures. This kind of concrete was made by mixing volcanic ash, lime, and seawater to form a mortar, which then was combined with volcanic rock. The Romans' innovative use of concrete laid the foundation for its use throughout history and into modern times (Cartwright, 2013).
Delivery process of concrete (and ratio of other materials required to make it) to site
There are several methods to deliver concrete to a construction site:
Ready-mixed Concrete (RMC): This is the most common method where concrete is mixed at a central plant and then delivered to the construction site in a concrete mixer truck. This method is beneficial for large-scale residential projects where high volumes of concrete are required and the construction site lacks the space for on-site mixing (Borger, 2018).
Volumetric Concrete Trucks: These are essentially mobile batching plants that can provide a quick supply of concrete. This is suitable for small to medium-sized residential projects where the quantity of concrete required can vary, or where space for a batching plant is not available (Smith, 2020).
On-site Mixing: Concrete is mixed directly at the construction site. For this method, concrete is usually delivered in bags of cement, where sand, aggregate and water are also delivered to site (unless the site already has a water source, i.e. hose pipe that can be used). This method is beneficial for small-scale residential projects where the required amount of concrete is not large and the quality of concrete can be controlled more effectively (Concrete Network, 2021).
Different Uses of Concrete On Site
Concrete is a versatile material that serves multiple purposes in residential construction projects. Here are some of the key uses:
Foundations: Concrete is typically used to build the foundation of residential buildings because of its unbeatable strength and durability. Such foundations are critical in large-scale housing projects where the stability of multiple units is at stake (Walker and Blokhuis, 2020).
Walls: Reinforced concrete walls provide a strong and safe structure that can withstand environmental elements. They are suitable for residential buildings located in areas prone to natural calamities like earthquakes and hurricanes (Reinforced Concrete Wall Builders, 2021).
Driveways and Patios: Concrete is frequently used for driveways and patios in individual houses due to its ability to bear heavy loads and resist wear and tear. Decorative concrete options also offer aesthetic benefits, adding to the property's visual appeal (Concrete Network, 2022).
Retaining Walls: In residential projects that involve sloping sites, concrete retaining walls help manage soil erosion and water runoff. They are ideal for hillside homes and landscaping projects (National Concrete Masonry Association, 2019).
The Ratio of Sand, Cement, and Water Required for Concrete
The ideal ratio of materials that are required to make concrete is where the mix is 1 part cement, 2 parts sand, and 3 parts aggregate, combined with approximately 0.5 parts water. The mixing process typically follows this sequence:
Add 1 part cement to the mixing container.
Add 2 parts sand.
Add 3 parts aggregate.
Gradually add water while mixing until the concrete reaches the right consistency.
The consistency of the mix is a crucial factor in determining whether your concrete is sufficiently mixed. A properly mixed concrete should have a uniform texture and color, and it should be pliable and workable but not too watery. It's often said that the mix should have the consistency of peanut butter (Portland Cement Association, 2022).
Different Types of Concrete
Concrete is not a one-size-fits-all material. There are several different types of concrete, each with their unique properties and uses, determined by the raw materials used in their composition.
Normal Strength Concrete: Comprising of standard raw materials, this concrete mix typically includes cement, sand, aggregate, and water. It is commonly used in most construction projects and can withstand pressures of up to 3000 psi/ 206.8bar (Concrete Construction Magazine, 2020).
High Strength Concrete: This variant has an increased concentration of cement and the addition of superplasticizers to increase its strength. It can withstand pressures greater than 6000 psi/ 413.7bar and is typically used in the construction of high-rise buildings and bridges (Concrete Network, 2021).
Lightweight Concrete: Utilizing light aggregates such as perlite or vermiculite, this type of concrete, known for its lower density and strength (typically ranging from 2,500/ 172.4 bar to 6,000 psi/ 413.7 bar), is primarily used in non-load bearing structures (Portland Cement Association, 2022).
High-Density Concrete: This type of concrete recognized for its strength and durability, made from heavy natural aggregates like barites or magnetite, has a compressive strength ranging from 3000psi/207 bar to 7000psi/482.63 bar; this substantial strength, coupled with its radiation shielding properties, makes it an ideal choice for use within nuclear power plants. (Construction Review Online, 2020).
Different Manufacturers of Concrete
There are several renowned manufacturers in the global concrete market, each known for their quality and innovation.
CEMEX: A global leader in the building materials industry, CEMEX operates in more than 50 countries. They offer ready-mix concrete and aggregates, among other products (CEMEX, 2023).
LafargeHolcim: As one of the world's leading suppliers of cement and aggregates, LafargeHolcim caters to 90 countries across the globe. The company is recognized for its contributions to sustainable construction (LafargeHolcim, 2023).
Heidelberg Cement: Heidelberg Cement operates in 50 countries and is one of the world's largest building materials companies. It offers a diverse range of products, including ready-mixed concrete and cement (Heidelberg Cement, 2023).
CRH Plc: CRH is a leading global diversified building materials group, known for its high-quality concrete products and services (CRH, 2023).
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Borger, J. (2018) 'How is Ready Mix Concrete Made?', Gra-Rock. Available at: https://www.gra-rock.com/blog/how-is-ready-mix-concrete-made/ (Accessed: 10 January 2023).
Smith, R. (2020) 'The Advantages of Volumetric Concrete Mixers', Utranazz. Available at: https://www.utranazz.com/news/the-advantages-of-volumetric-concrete-mixers/ (Accessed: 10 January 2023).
Concrete Network (2021) 'Mix Concrete On Site', Concrete Network. Available at: https://www.concretenetwork.com/concrete/mixing.html/ (Accessed: 10 January 2023).
Walker, P. and Blokhuis, W. (2020) 'Concrete in Residential Construction', Concrete Centre. Available at: https://www.concretecentre.com/ (Accessed: 10 January 2023).
Reinforced Concrete Wall Builders (2021) 'The Importance of Reinforced Concrete in Construction', RCWB. Available at: https://www.rcwb.com/ (Accessed: 10 January 2023).
Concrete Network (2022) 'Concrete Patios', Concrete Network. Available at: https://www.concretenetwork.com/ (Accessed: 10 January 2023).
National Concrete Masonry Association (2019) 'Retaining Walls', NCMA. Available at: https://www.ncma.org/ (Accessed: 10 January 2023).
Portland Cement Association (2022) 'Mixing Concrete', PCA. Available at: https://www.cement.org/ (Accessed: 11 January 2023).
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Construction Review Online (2020) 'Types of Concrete', CRO. Available at: https://constructionreviewonline.com/ (Accessed: 11 January 2023).
CEMEX (2023) 'About Us', CEMEX. Available at: https://www.cemex.com/ (Accessed: 11 January 2023).
LafargeHolcim (2023) 'Who We Are', LafargeHolcim. Available at: https://www.lafargeholcim.com/ (Accessed: 11 January 2023).
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